Like Mother, Like Daughter

The women of the Freeman family share more than genes.

Written by Laura Freeman

Photography by Angela Karen

Production Direction by Mark Freeman

Hair and Makeup by Ginger Bumgarner and Morgan Bole


Like her mother before her, Mom is one of those strong southern women who tends to show up in novels by authors who grew up in this part of the world. Though she has to stand very straight to measure five feet tall—and while because of her ladylike demeanor, she has been mistaken for someone who is quiet—never underestimate Nell Freeman. She doesn’t need to raise her voice to make herself heard. A slight lift of a brow and “the look” was all it took for her children to get the message that it was time to adjust their behavior or their attitudes.

Blanche Dubois would never have made it at our house. Instead of waiting to be rescued, Mom believed we should learn the value of being prepared to rescue ourselves.  She taught that lesson by example: When her husband was ill and she was almost nine months pregnant with the baby who would one day be the mother of photographer and B-Metro columnist Angela Karen, she worked in the late summer heat, picking vegetables from her garden; she sold them to buy groceries and pay the bills.

She encouraged us to expect the best of ourselves and to get a good education so we could be self-sufficient and ready to meet the challenges life can bring. All three of mom’s daughters worked their way through college and have excelled in their careers.  Her granddaughters have done the same. Now the fourth generation—her great granddaughters—are already showing similar inclinations.

Is the strength of southern women in their DNA? Maybe. The culture? Most likely. But an essential ingredient that has sustained that strength in our family is the way threads of love, genuine liking, and shared memories have woven a bond between us.



Though we fight our own dragons, with the men in our lives often by our side, when we grow weary, we know our sisters will understand. We can always call them, or our moms, aunts, cousins, nieces, daughters, or granddaughters for an ear that will listen, a word of encouragement, and a reminder that we are loved.

Years pass, as they do. Life happens. We understand how precious these relationships are. So this year, for Mother’s Day, before time has a chance to add another line or gray hair, we’re celebrating that bond with photos of the women of our family together, looking as beautiful as we see each other…with, ahem, a little help from a terrific makeup artist and incredible photographer.

We have given each other this gift of capturing ourselves together as we are now, and we will have it always. When little Sunny is matriarch of her own family, perhaps around the year 2095, she’ll show these pictures to her great-granddaughters and tell them stories about where their independent nature came from…and where they got their good looks.


Portraiture is my Passion

“Every woman deserves to feel beautiful and to experience the glamour of the full star treatment,” Angela Karen said at her loft photo studio on Morris Avenue. “Just like celebrities in magazines, the women we photograph have a professional makeup artist, hair styling, and wardrobe consultation. During the photo shoot, I show them posing techniques models use to look trim and elegant. Then in post-production, we have the same tools magazines use to brighten, retouch, contour, and slim.”

In addition to documenting life milestones, Karen is known for glamour photos in the Birmingham Bombshells calendars that raised funds for ovarian cancer research. Her fashion photography has appeared in national magazines, and she is noted for career portraits that bring out the essence of the subject’s personality.

Group portraits of relationships are an area of growing interest in her work. “It’s so rewarding to go into a home and see a photo or coffee table album I’ve shot documenting shared moments and memories that has become a treasured family keepsake,” Karen said. “I love watching women blossom as they enjoy a simple day of pampering and seeing how beautiful they really are. Every woman deserves her 15 minutes of glory.”

2 Responses to “Like Mother, Like Daughter”

  1. Diana Summerford says:


  2. Darlene Nelson says:

    It is so fortunate to see so many generations captured on photo and to have their story told. These are some very strong and beautiful women.

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